December 10, 2020

Neguse Legislation to Expand Rocky Mountain National Park Passes the House

Washington D.C.—Today, two bills introduced by Congressman Joe Neguse to expand Rocky Mountain National Park passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. H.R. 5458, the Rocky Mountain National Park Boundary Modification Act would allow former NASA astronaut and Longmont, Colorado native Vance D. Brand to donate 40 acres to Rocky Mountain National Park, and H.R. 5459, the Rocky Mountain Ownership Correction Act would correct a longstanding error regarding a local family’s cabin that was mistakenly transferred to the park. Both bills enjoy bipartisan, bicameral support, with Congressman Lamborn co-sponsoring both House bills, and Senators Gardner and Bennet championing the bills in the Senate. 

View the Congressman’s remarks on the House floor ahead of the vote here.

“These bills will expand and protect one of our most treasured and historic national parks, one that I am proud is located within Colorado’s Second Congressional District. People from all over the world are drawn to Rocky Mountain National Park to experience nature and partake in outstanding recreational activities. It is a place that holds deep meaning for many Americans, and especially Coloradans,” said Congressman Neguse. “I am thrilled to have both bills pass out of the House today, and hope the Senate will move to consider them in a timely fashion.”

“I’m glad the House passed our legislation to expand Rocky Mountain National Park,” said Senator Bennet. “These bills will add a parcel of land in the Longs Peak area, donated by astronaut Vance Brand, to the park and improve management along the park boundaries. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bill across the finish line in the Senate.”

In July, the House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a legislative hearing on H.R. 5458 and H.R. 5459, during which Congressman Neguse and former astronaut Vance. D. Brand testified in support of the bills. In September, the Committee voted to send both bills to the full House for consideration. 

Background  

Former U.S. astronaut Vance D. Brand is voluntarily donating a 40-acre tract to Rocky Mountain National Park. The property is located adjacent to the eastern boundary of the park and would add additional protection for the park’s high-elevation ecosystem. This parcel of land would also provide recreational access and connectivity through a scenic, natural buffer between private lands and three popular trails; Estes Cone, Storm Pass, and Eugenia Mine Trails. These three trails connect to and are part of a large trail network offering hundreds of miles of trails to the park’s 4.5 million annual visitors.

The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the Forsyth family to resolve a 1972-73 issue where a 0.18-acre plot containing their family cabin was erroneously transferred to the Rocky Mountain National Park when the NPS purchased a larger surrounding parcel. An error in the bank documents’ legal description of the parcel mislocated the family’s holding as a 0.18-acre plot of vacant land inside the parcel, not the original cabin site. The Forsyth family, seeking to regain legal ownership of its cabin and the 0.18-acre plot on which it sits, proposed an exchange of properties.